Fruits Basket Fan Fiction ❯ Seasons of Sorrow ❯ Memories of Spring = In Preparation ( Chapter 24 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

DISCLAIMER: The jury is still out, but I'd like to hold on to vain hope for just a while longer…even if it's a lie…
Memories of Spring
In Preparation
(Static noise) “Say again, Godmother-in-training?”
(Static noise) “Head Godmother…(static crackles)…girls ecstatic. Beautiful…” (Static crackles)
`Curse the interferences to my signal!' (Static noise) “Godmother-in-training, are you sure a fridge door is not open? (Static crackles) Hello? Heeeellllooooooo?! (Static crackles) Hey, are the girls using their hair-dryers?” (Static noise)
Ayame was very elegantly frustrated at this point with his top of the line walkie-talkie. He had bought it in hopes that he'd be able to get through to Mine when emergencies presented themselves. He refused to chance it with his cell phone once more when he was out at Shigure's place (the phone there was a forgotten memory to him), but it seemed that not even the almighty Mega10000 version 2 with signals reaching 5000 kilometers (plus waterproof, shockproof, dustproof, idiotproof…) could pass through the seclusion of Shigure's home.
(Sigh) `The forces of communication are truly against me,' thought Ayame while winding beautifully conditioned hair around a well-manicured finger. Letting out a rueful sigh, he calmly looked at his walkie-talkie, arching an eyebrow ever so elegantly, willing it to somehow reach Mine.
`I suppose I'm refunding this mislabeled product…' mused Ayame.
`Misleading advertisements…that's the absolutely last time I get talked into a buy by some sales clerk that wears an outfit that's screaming makeover…' pondered Ayame as he blew softly at the silver tresses before his eyes.
`Dear me, am I in need of a haircut? These bangs just keep growing…hm, maybe I can grow them as long as Tori-san…' wondered Ayame with a grin.
It was then that Ayame returned from his wide world of eccentricities and joined the world of the locally sane. If you could call Shigure's house a sane place to be… He looked up to see that Yuki was still waiting ever so impatiently on top of the stool with arms outstretched on either side of his body, all the while glaring down at him.
“Oh-ho! (Snickers) Please forgive me, my dear brother!” cried out Ayame joyously while hugging Yuki's legs. “I was trying to get a hold of Mine, but it seems that the lines of communication are down. (Let's go, then places hands on hips.) I do believe I was lied to by that sales clerk whom by the way needs a major do-over by yours truly (gestures to himself). I mean, you should have the seen the horrid…”
“JUST STOP!” yelled Yuki irately. `Kami, HELP ME from killing this baka here and now!!!'
“Really Yuki, there's no need to yell. I have perfect hearing…even better than your average human, although I doubt I'm as good as Gure-san. Where is he by the way?” asked Ayame innocently as he glanced around the living room.
(Anime tears behind his angry façade.) `Yeah, where the hell did that creep run off to? He was supposed to stay with me and keep Nii-san focused! DAMN HIM!' Letting out a loud groan, Yuki let his head droop to his chest hopelessly. `Without a doubt, I'm going to be late, I'm going to be late, I'm going to be late…'
“I'M GOING TO BE LATE, NII-SAN!!!” shouted the panicky nezumi to the snake below him.
“Oh pish-posh (hand waves off notion). No real party can ever be started without the star coming down the steps, arriving fashionably late while wearing very fashionable clothes. (Eyes sparkling.) Oh yes, plus the lady of the ball that everyone is dying to be with will have her arm draped over yours as you both glide down…” rambled Ayame incessantly.
`Why, WHY ME?! What sin did I commit in any form of life to be here with Nii-san on the evening of my Class Dance?! PLEASE, KAMI, TELL ME!!!' were Yuki's thoughts to himself as he struggled to maintain the rather tiring pose. He was seriously contemplating ending the nonstop chatter from his brother by sewing his mouth shut using his brother's own needle and thread. And he would have done just that if it weren't for…
“Ayame, enough. Yuki's not going to be fashionably late, he'll be late period,” remarked the dragon with a slight edge to his normally stoic voice. “Adjustments this late, Ayame?”
Both brothers' attention snapped to the new presence in the room. One with a look of relief and the other with a look of utter joy…
“Tori-san! I am so BLESSED today!” exclaimed Ayame happily with hands clasped together. “Oh yes, the adjustments…I had such an epiphany earlier today about Yuki's outfit for the evening that I immediately closed shop and sent Mine over to where the girls were (I had called my dear cousin Kagura-chan who was going down to help Tohru-kun and her friends with their outfits) so she could get Tohru-kun looking right while I alone came down tout de suite and brought all my supplies to Gure-san's humble home in high hopes of beautifying my dear brother even more! I swear I'll have traffic stopping just to look at dear Yuki's way by the time I get through…”
`Good God, he's not stopping, is he?' Clearing his throat and holding his hand up, Hatori finally interjected, “By the time you get through, the whole dance will be over. Just finish it NOW. (Glances to Yuki.) Wasn't Shigure supposed to be here? Where's Hatsuharu…he had called me, so I assumed he'd be down here with you.”
`Oh, thank you Haru…' Letting out a deep breath, Yuki replied, “Probably with Hiro upstairs in my room. Haru was smart enough to go where the noise levels aren't as high as a blender (glares pointedly to Ayame). As for Shigure, I have no idea…the baka is probably taking live video of me in a dark corner somewhere.”
Shaking his head at this ridiculous situation, half of him agreeing with Yuki's ideas, Hatori walked past the brothers into the kitchen, only to find it empty. He then walked towards Shigure study. Without looking back, he remarked to Ayame, “Finish up your work, Ayame.”
“Hai!” merrily replied the snake. Glancing back up at Yuki quizzically, he asked “Ne, Yuki, why do you have your arms up?”
Wanting to scream bloody murder, Yuki narrowed his gaze at his brother and retorted through clenched teeth, “The pins, Nii-san…”
Finally noting that he had indeed stuck pins under Yuki's arms while making last minute alterations, Ayame gasped and immediately removed them. “Hehehe, so sorry! There, is that better?”
Feeling relief from standing in that awkward pose for what seemed like hours, Yuki was about to make snake soup out of Ayame when he heard the shrill beeping of a walkie-talkie.
“Tenshou, er, Head Godmother, can you read me, over?” (Static noise)
Gleefully reaching for the walkie-talkie, Ayame pressed a button and bellowed into it, “Loud and clear, my dear assistant, I mean, Godmother-in-training. How are the final adjustments coming along? Over.”
“Give me that!” cried out Yuki exasperated.
“Yuki, please, I'm on the phone, sort of…” replied Ayame with a serious air while he held back Yuki with his hand. Back to his walkie-talkie, “Excuse me, please repeat yourself. I have a nervous little brother here waiting for his date…”
“STOP IT!!!” screamed Yuki as he lunged onto Ayame's back while trying to pry the walkie-talkie from Ayame's grip. `Damn, he's got some grip!'
Ayame meanwhile struggled to communicate with Mine on the walkie-talkie while having a rabid nezumi on his back, screaming in his ear. “Now, Yuki, (gasp) this is no way to be the (gasp) adult around here. (Gasp) You're ruining your (gasp) outfit! (Wheezing—Yuki has him in chokehold.) Um, Yuki, (gasp) I can't breathe…(gasp)(clicks button) Mayday, mayday…abort, ABORT (gasp) all communications!” (GASP)
“Ayame!” called out Hatori loudly from across the room.
In immediate reply, Ayame stood upright and suddenly let go of the walkie-talkie while he plastered a wide innocent smile to his face. Unfortunately, he gave no hints of a notice to Yuki, and so the poor overworked and stressed nezumi lost his balance and fell off Ayame's back with walkie-talkie in hand.
“This brotherly moment is brought to you by Mega10000 version 2 walkie-talkie. Available at your local hardware dealer,” remarked the missing inu to the video cam he held in front of his face. Turning the video cam back to the two brothers, he closed in on Yuki's defeated form on the floor. “Ne, Yuki-kun, what words would you like to share with our audience this evening? Remember, your response must be of PG-13 or below rating…children could be watching, you know. Kyo-kun almost slammed me across the hallway while I taped him coming out of the shower. The cam was aimed well above his torso…”
“Gure-san, you fiend! I was supposed to help you as your devoted assistant!” cried out Ayame with tears in his eyes.
“Aya, beloved, you are always with me wherever I go!” cried out Shigure in response with equal amount of tears in his eyes.
Hatori conveniently ignored the two airheads that passed off as sane human beings while walking over to Yuki. He knelt down and saw that the nezumi had this look of utter disbelief. Hoping to pacify the near volcanic eruption known as Yuki's fury, Hatori took the walkie-talkie from Yuki's hand and shut it off, placing it on the table. The doctor then helped him up and dusted him off, quickly giving him a quick checkup to be sure the nezumi wasn't hurt from the fall. Satisfied with the results, he turned to Ayame.
“Did you finish your work like I told you to?” asked Hatori impatiently. `I really need a smoke after this…'
“Oh, but of course! I was done ages ago before you walked in. I had just forgotten to take the pins out. Silly me,” remarked the snake off-handedly with a grin (Yuki gaping at this).
“My dear Aya is never silly!” replied Shigure with a sly grin. He then shifted his cam to his beautiful cousin, other than Yuki that is. “You're many things Aya…must I refresh your memory, in private?
“Gure-san, the rating…” replied seductively the tailor.
“It's called film editing, Aya…a director's cut just for our personal collection,” whispered the writer slyly.
“Oh, you mean you still kept that collection? Why Gure-san, there are growing children with raging hormones in your home! What if they found it?” the tailor whispered back.
Yuki's eyes had seen all and heard all. Just as he was about to lunge himself once more at his brother and finish him off, he felt a restraint on his right arm. Glancing upwards, he saw that Hatori had a hand to his head, rubbing at his temples ever so furiously.
“Please, Yuki, for me, just let it go,” remarked the doctor quietly. “It's better if you leave him in his world for now. He's too overly excited to even think straight.”
Heavily sighing in defeat, Yuki nodded in agreement and headed for the stairs. Of course, as he strode by Shigure and Ayame, he quickly turned on them and bonked their heads together. Seeing the dizzying looks of stars around them, he smiled in satisfaction and went on his way, grabbing the walkie-talkie from the table and tossing it to the two where it bounced off each of their heads. Hatori couldn't help but smile at this.
`Bakas,' thought Yuki crossly while climbing the stairs. If he had only said no to Ayame in the very beginning like his instincts told him to. (Sigh) `I am such a pushover with his begging!'
“Get the hell out, you damn cow!” screamed the neko from his room.
Out rushed out Haru from Kyo's room, mumbling to himself. “I'm just saying you have a hole in your boxers.”
“Who the hell told ya to look down there?! PEEPER!” further screeched Kyo as he slammed his door shut.
`I don't even want to know.' Just hearing this part of the conversation convinced Yuki to not even bother sparing them a second glance. Walking into his room, he felt Haru's presence behind him.
“Finally released?” asked Haru with a grin.
Looking up to him, Yuki gave a small smile in return. “Thanks to your call…arigatou.”
(Yawn) “Anytime,” remarked the bored cousin as he threw himself across the bed. He had been ready for over two hours now, wearing his dark leather jeans with black dress shirt with the top two buttons unbuttoned. It showed off his more elaborate jewelry that he'd wear on special occasions. He was trying to bide time in Kyo's room while Yuki's brother ogled over his attire, but in the end, Kyo was no fun since he was too busy running around trying to make himself look good. And Kyo sure couldn't take a little friendly advice…
Haru, sighing in boredom, noticed that Hiro was in the same spot he left him in when he went to bother Kyo. Hiro had come over when Kisa had decided to accompany Kagura and Momiji (he just had to see Tohru—Kagura thought it a good idea to get a `man's' opinion before showing off to the general public) to help Tohru and her friends with dressing up for tonight. However, the Sheep of the Zodiac had decided to escape the loud decibels from one loud snake (even the TV at full volume couldn't drown out Ayame's voice) by hiding out in Yuki's room, the only male-owned, decently clean, and quiet room in the house. Currently the sheep's attention was focused on a book left on Yuki's desk.
“Oi, what are you reading?” asked Haru languidly to his younger relative.
“Hm, nothing…just looking at pictures of flowers,” mumbled Hiro in reply.
“Ah…thinking about getting Kisa some?” asked the cow with a smirk.
“Shut up!” remarked the sheep heatedly.
“Knock it off, both of you,” interjected Yuki in frustration. “If you want to have it out, take it outside of my room.”
“He started it…” grumbled Hiro lowly to himself. He then glanced up and saw Yuki trying in vain to fix his collar to his very modern and ultimately fashionable suit.
Ayame truly went out of his way with his latest creation. Black pants with long sleeved indigo-colored jacket that reached mid-thigh in length, single-breasted with all the buttons hidden minus the one top button to his mandarin collar, which came with a gold stud. He also had a matching pair of gold cuff links that unfortunately weren't cooperating with this rather frustrated senior.
Seeing Yuki frustrated with getting his cuff links on, Haru got up and grabbed them from his cousin. “You know, you could just simply ask for help with these.”
(Sigh) “Yeah, okay. Fine,” replied Yuki with a slight edge.
“Hey, relax, we'll make it on time,” consoled Haru with a small grin, knowing that his nezumi cousin was on edge what with the big night ahead of them.
Yuki could only look away as he let out a deep breath. `I'd better…goodness knows how Kakeru will be handling things before I get there.'
Smiling even wider at his cousin's uneasy silence, Haru remarked, “There. Done. Now look at yourself in the mirror, and I mean really look.”
Yuki immediately looked up to his cousin, arching elegantly one brow to this unusual request. Haru inwardly sighed as he turned the nezumi around to face the mirror. “Now, tell me what you think…pretty good, huh?” he commented with absolute certainty.
“Hm.” Yuki really couldn't see what was so `pretty good' about him. He noted that he was clean, his outfit pristine, his hair completely in place, and a slight look of apprehension across his face, no doubt due to the stress he'd endured so far that day. Looking down tiredly, he thought, `Stress…sad to say that it's just the beginning.'
“Ow, jeez, what the…” Yuki spat out as he nursed a small bump to the head.
“I said to look at yourself…can't you see how you'll practically turn every head once you make your presence known?” asked Haru to Yuki's reflection.
Sighing in frustration, Yuki quietly replied with head bowed, “I can't ever understand why they even bother to look at me to begin with. (Crosses arms.) I'm just a regular guy in a nice suit who's going out of his mind thanks to a certain snake and his walkie-talkie!”
Not really understanding the part of the walkie-talkie, Haru shook that comment from his mind. He did however look fondly to Yuki's reflection, and really had to hand it to Ayame for really going all out on this outfit that Yuki wore. It brought out Yuki's creamy porcelain skin and large beautiful eyes whose long lashes would blink seductively when he's completely relaxed around his family and friends. The color on his jacket also highlighted Yuki's dark gray hair, and one couldn't help but want to touch the softness that his hair radiated from a distance. All he needed was a smile that exuded warmth…something that would surely come in Tohru's presence.
`Why would anyone bother to look your way, you wonder. Damn, boy, you can stop traffic with what you're wearing now,' thought Haru with an arched brow of his own. Shaking his head in disbelief, he regarded his cousin who was starting to pout, `Can't you see how we all see you? Hell, even people outside the family feel the pull to be near you. And it's not just your looks Yuki…it's more than that. You really are in every possible way…exquisite.'
(Ahem) “Just a regular guy? Yeah, right.” Haru continued with a sly grin, “Although your pouting is starting to remind me of a regular neko we all know.”
Gaping in horror at being compared to Kyo's mannerisms, Yuki sneered in reply, “I do not.
Grinning even wider, the cow could only embraced his nezumi cousin from behind, setting his chin to Yuki's shoulder. “Yeah, you do. But trust me when I say that you're too cute when you do that. (Yuki narrows his gaze to Haru's reflection.) I think Honda-san would agree with me, too. Do you think she's done by now?”
As Yuki contemplated the different methods he could send Haru through the roof, he immediately snapped back to attention when Haru mentioned Tohru. “Good grief! She's waiting on me…where's my socks, where's my wallet, where's…”
“Where's your sanity?” asked Haru snidely.
After promptly sending Haru onto the floor with one swift smack to the head, Yuki went in frantic search of the items, only to be stopped by another sound of reason.
“Oi, here they are. I got them out already while you were getting ready…figured you'd be running late,” commented Hiro nonchalantly as he handed the articles in question to Yuki's waiting hands.
“Arigatou, Hiro,” smiled the nezumi gratefully to the sheep, thankful that Hiro was nice enough to help him when time was of the essence. Yuki immediately set to work on finishing up getting dressed. He then stood looking around his room, wondering what else he might be forgetting. “What else, what else…”
“Looking for this?” asked Hiro while he handed Yuki a miniature glass of cologne, the kind that had the glass stopper on top. “I kind of borrowed it from your shelf. Where did you get it?”
Dabbing the cologne to his neck and wrists, Yuki replied with a small smile, “Actually, my Nii-san gave it to me a long time ago. The company that was making it was discontinuing the line, and Nii-san just couldn't part with the cologne. So he bought as many as he could and gave me one. I hardly ever use it, but it does smell nice. Not overdone or anything like drowning in a musky scent. It's subtle enough for you to know that it's there. You like it?”
“Um, yeah, it's all right, I guess,” stammered in response Hiro, gazing back to the picture book he was looking at before.
Smiling a tad wider, Yuki replaced the cap gently, and then went over to Hiro. When Hiro looked up, to his astonishment he felt Yuki open his hand gently and carefully placed the cologne here, closing his fingers over the small flask. “Here…it's yours. I do believe you'll find better use for it soon.”
Hiro could only stare in shock at Yuki's retreating back as the nezumi got his outer jacket and shoes and headed for the door. The growing teenager could only smile softly at the kind gesture of his older cousin who never publicly embarrassed him about a certain someone in his young life that he was been desperately trying to impress with his growing maturity. Well, sort of…and speaking of embarrassments…
“Hm, off to impress Kisa, ne?” asked Haru wryly.
Just as Hiro was about to retort scathingly to that remark, he saw Yuki painfully drag Haru by the ear out of the room with a huff, no doubt exasperated at his cousin. “Bye, Hiro. KYO! We're leaving!” called out Yuki as he went down the stairs.
“NANI?!” was Kyo's muffled reply from in his room. `What the hell?' He then stuck his head out of his room and yelled, “I'm not done!”
“Too bad,” remarked Yuki uncaringly.
“TOO BADMY ASS!!! DAMN YOU, NEZUMI! screeched Kyo while running around in his room, knocking down different items in his room, one of them landing on his foot. “DAMMIT!!! STUPID PIECE OF…” yelped Kyo in pain as he nursed his foot. “Damn cow…it's his fault I'm running late!!!! DAMMIT!!!”
Yuki could hear the numerous curses from Kyo all the way down in the living room where Shigure, Ayame, and Hatori were calmly having their tea. Somewhat calmly, considering Shigure still had the video cam, recording all that was going on around him…
“And here we have our `lady fair' in a stunning outfit by our beloved designer, Sohma Ayame. A few words to our audience, dear Yuki-kun?” asked Shigure the writer-turned-cameraman as he zoomed in on Yuki's rather large eyes.
Having a camera thrust close to your face was not something Yuki had expected. Shoving the camera out of his face and sighing in frustration once again, he sidestepped his cousin and ran into someone else who couldn't help but embrace him hard.
“Yuki!!” exclaimed Ayame joyously as he held onto his nezumi brother tightly, happily noting that Yuki was wearing that cologne. Then thinking better of it, he immediately let go, rapidly dusting Yuki off and straightening his jacket. “Gomen but a masterpiece is hard to resist…especially if you're wearing it, dear little brother! You should really wear this when you're visiting me during the week…” (GLOMP)
Yuki had slapped his hand over Ayame's large mouth in hopes that the snake didn't spill any more details about his more frequent visits to the dress shop. He prayed that no one else ever found out about his hidden talents with the piano…it was too much as it was that Ayame knew. Interestingly though, no one outside of Akito and Kureno that came across this fact ever spoke of the matter openly to Yuki, which he secretly was grateful for. Even Ayame kept quiet about it…probably not wanting to take a chance that Yuki would refuse to visit and play for him.
“That's enough, Nii-san! I have to get going,” remarked Yuki while trying to put on his coat, only to be halted by Ayame's hand.
“Oh, but wait, there's more!” replied the designer happily. Pulling out a single red rose seemingly out of nowhere, Ayame pinned the fragile flower onto Yuki's left-breast pocket. “There. Such a classic really, but classics never die and red really does suit you (not to mention the outfit) the best!”
Yuki found himself once again staring down at Ayame's hands as they smoothed out unseen wrinkles and removed invisible lint. Looking back up, he noted that his older brother's eyes had this distant look to them with a twinge of sadness. Cocking his head slightly, Yuki asked curiously, “Nii-san, is something the matter?”
“Eh?” questioned the snake as he was brought out of his reverie. Realizing what he was doing, he smiled softly and responded, “Oh, nothing…I was just seeing how much you've grown. You know, the usual clichés about how time flies right before you…hm, how true that really is. (Sigh—sad smile.) I'm just glad that I got to be here when I did, so I didn't miss anymore of it.”
It then occurred to Yuki that Ayame was referring to the time lost when he wasn't around during his childhood. It really had been quite some time since then. Yuki was too busy to even realize it, and it then occurred to him that he no longer pondered over such a loss anymore as he had in the past. It just now seemed natural to him to have Ayame around…almost like his older sibling never really was gone to begin with. Of course, spending one afternoon with the exuberant snake would seem like a lifetime to the untrained individual, but Yuki managed to live with it tolerably well.
“Yeah, well, I'm glad, too,” replied Yuki softly, tilting his head the other way while keeping his gaze on his brother's reaction. Sure enough, the 500-watt smile was in place on the overly excited snake.
`They really do look like twins standing next to each other like that,' thought Shigure to himself as he videoed this rare brotherly moment. Suddenly remembering what he was supposed to do, he put the cam down and pulled out the Mega 20000 Version 3 digital camera (made by the same company of the infamous walkie-talkie). Getting the scene focused just right before him, Shigure called out to the brothers, “Hey, smile for me!”
Ayame, ever so ready on a moment's notice to pose for a camera, immediately embraced his shocked brother before the camera, 500-watt smile in place.
“Aw, lookie here, Haa-san…don't they look adorable?” cooed the writer to the silent doctor.
“Lemme see!” cried out Ayame as he huddled behind Shigure to see the shot. “I want copies, Gure-san…lots of them!”
“Of course, my dear Aya!” exclaimed the inu to his best friend. “We could add this to our other collection…what do you think?”
“Gure-san, little pitchers…” remarked the snake seductively.
Huffing and panting, Kyo landed at the foot of the stairs none too gracefully for a neko. He was partly dressed with one shirttail hanging loose and one sock on. He seemed to be hopping on one foot while trying to get the other sock on…
“Geez, you're standing around here while I'm breakin' my neck to hurry?! BAKAS!!!” screamed Kyo irately to his cousins.
“Do you always yell like a whiney baby?” inquired Hiro annoyed.
“Pretty much,” was Haru's languid response from his position against the wall.
Kyo was absolutely seething, “Damn you, Ha…”
“Oh, look, Kyon-kichi has finally made his entrance…rather ungracefully though. So unlike Yuki's wonderful entrance,” replied the snake.
“And over here, we finally have the resident neko making a smashing entrance in what appears to be half-dressed garbs. Kyo-kun, a response to our general audience? Remember the rating…” remarked the inu gleefully.
“GET THAT DAMN THING AWAY FROM ME!” cried out Kyo, shoving the camera back into Shigure's face.
“Enough, all of you. I presume your ride is waiting at the entrance of the path to here?” Hatori asked Yuki.
“Hai,” responded Yuki tiredly as he wore the jacket loosely on him so as not to squish the flower he was wearing. The family had arranged a mode of transport for Yuki and everyone in his party…sort of a general present for all on this special night (yeah, Kureno arranged this, too). “I'm off,” remarked the nezumi as he parted with a general wave.
“Oi, wait up! Damn, stupid, freakin'…” continued Kyo with a string of curses under his breath as he rushed out half-dressed, followed by a cow who was taking his time.
“Here Haa-kun. Be sure to take good footage, okay?” asked Shigure while he handed the video cam and camera to Haru.
“Hm,” was the cow's one-worded reply as he held onto these items and went off in search, er, follow the trail before him.
Waving them all off, the three lifelong friends stood silently for a moment on Shigure's porch, all recalling moments within their own high school years that they remembered the most. Upon hearing the TV switch on inside (Hiro had gone back to his usual ritual whenever at the inu's place), Shigure snapped out of his stroll down memory lane and gazed back at his two best friends. The best of times were always in their company and tonight was no different. Still…
“Well, that was too good to be true for me! (Tired sigh) I best start getting things cleaned up inside. Gomen ne for the mess inside, Gure-san,” replied apologetically Ayame.
“Don't worry about it, Aya…I had actually thought you'd be staying for the night,” commented the inu.
“Please, Gure-san. Such an uncouth act does not become someone of my stature. I can always get the details later on…you know I always do!” winked the designer to the writer mischievously.
“Hurry up, Ayame, and tell Hiro to get ready as well. I'll wait out here to take you both home,” replied Hatori calmly as he lit a cigarette.
Clasping his hands in utter ecstasy, Ayame hurried into the house to clean up. Shigure meanwhile joined his friend in a smoke, and both cousins gazed out into the darkening day. Glancing at Hatori sideways, the writer breathed out heavily and raised a question he hoped would stir something in the dragon's ironclad façade.
“Ne, Haa-san, do tell. How have things been going with Yuki-kun and Akito-san? I mean, your stress levels are pretty obvious…” commented the inu wryly.
Hatori's heartbeat did skip a bit upon hearing this direct question. He smirked inwardly to himself, hearing how well Shigure phrased the question so that it could be taken either way. Oh yes, Yuki had already spoken with him about the encounter with Rin. He was in shock and silently panicking at first, knowing just how much the Horse of the Zodiac sought out the Dog of the Zodiac whenever something was amiss between Akito and herself. If that were to happen, he could only imagine what plans the shrewd inu was construing to handle this unexpected `development' between Akito and Yuki.
Ultimately, he thought it best that they say nothing of the matter for now since there was little to be done about it. He did promise Yuki that he'd keep an eye and ear out for this rebellious Jyuunishi member in hopes of speaking with her of the matter privately. So far no luck since she had been obviously in hiding once more. Now he knew that the inevitable had happened, and of course, the inu was testing the wall he'd worked so hard to build to protect the secrets entrusted to him. There is, however, one thing for certain that he refused to make a secret of…
`I'm not going to play these games between you or Akito, Shigure. Especially if it's involving Yuki…I may be very flawed to be even considered a decent person, but I refuse to participate in any way in your petty schemes that may end up with either one of you shattering Yuki's innocence. He doesn't deserve that. (Mental sigh) But if it's an answer you want, so be it…take it however you want.' Without skipping a beat or letting a crack show through his stoic wall, Hatori bluntly remarked, “Fine.”
“Just fine?” asked Shigure incredulously. “Anything…more?”
“No.” Hatori glanced back to Shigure's face, seeing the fierce determination momentarily in his eyes. He also let the same look pass through his own eyes long enough for the writer to catch it.
`Not cooperating, Haa-san?' Shigure then smiled and shook his head as he took a good puff from his cigarette. With a rueful sigh, he remarked, “Ne, Haa-san, we are a pair. Wouldn't you agree?”
“Hm.” Hatori was not about to back down in any way or give Shigure any leads as to what truly was being hidden from him and everyone else.
“Well, at least all is well, ne Haa-san?” questioned the writer while gazing to the far reaches of the forest. Pausing for what seemed like hours, he glanced down and quietly consented, “You do know that what will be, will be, regardless of what is done or not done.”
Hearing even that small, cryptic admission from his close friend really put Hatori on edge. Shigure wasn't one to `lay out any of his cards' when the `game' is still in play. Snuffing out the cigarette, Hatori turned to fully face his old friend. “That may be true, but it's also true that what is done cannot be undone. Are you so sure that the repercussions of what is done or not done won't overwhelm even you?”
“Is this…a warning?” asked the inu gazing at him through hooded eyes.
Leaning against the post of the porch, Hatori looked down at his feet, sighing. “Iie, just…advice.”
Letting out a long stream of smoke, Shigure responded with a sly smile, “We'll just see, I suppose…she can be a handful, ne?”
Shaking his head gravely, Hatori looked up with a very recognizable feeling across his features that Shigure could well perceive. Worry. “It's not her that I'm referring to.”
Just as Shigure had this look of confusion come across his face, his ever-jubilant cousin made his presence known once more. “Gure-san, all mess has been put away and your home is back to its chaotic state! I must say that I have quite the housekeeping skills that my dear brother lacks!” remarked Ayame with a wide smile.
Immediately slipping back to his usual laid-back self, Shigure gave his beautiful cousin a wink. “Aya, no one can ever match you on any level. Haa-san, don't keep our stunning designer waiting. He must be famished what with all the work he's done today!”
“You know, we can stop by at a restaurant for dinner, what do you say, Gure-san? (Turns to Hatori.) Tori-san, we are ready…shall we leave?” asked Ayame grinning in anticipation.
“Alas, I'm overdue on my last deadline…rain check?” asked Shigure while putting on a pout.
(Groans elegantly) “I suppose. But I'll have my thoughts on you the entire time I dine with Tori-san! I'll order your favorite meals and reminisce with Tori-san about old times and…” rambled the exuberant snake before being interrupted by the very tired doctor.
“We'll have dinner at my place, Ayame. Let's go…Hiro,” replied Hatori as he pulled on Ayame's arm while Hiro followed, leading them down the old beaten path back to his car. Glancing behind them, Hatori gazed back at his other cousin that stood alone at the porch. He truly hoped he had conveyed to Shigure just how bad the consequences would be to trifle with this matter.
Shigure, in turn, could tell the look on the doctor's face that he was worried about him. If only he could comply with leaving well enough alone… If only there was another way…
`I'm sorry Haa-san, I truly am. For now, the lesser of the two evils must be done if the greater of the two evils is to succeed. My options are limited as well as my time…our time.'
Edited by: Seiren-no-Kaze 02-23-07
Author's Blurbs…where? Click to the next chapter!!! (02-09-05)